Collagen is the most abundant protein within the human body, constituting around 1/3 of total body protein. It is a component of all tissues including bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, and to a lesser degree muscle. It provides strength and rigidity to tissues and not only contributes to force production, but also plays a protective role against strain upon the tissues.
Recently, there has been much hype surrounding dietary collagen, with an unprecedented amount of products hitting the shelves including hydrolysed collagen and bone broths, touted to have several benefits ranging from positive body composition outcomes to aiding in the prevention and/or treatment of musculoskeletal and connective tissue injuries. Consuming collagen is thought to do so as a result of the protein (more specifically amino acid) content, which is similar to that of human collagen.
Although there is promising preliminary research to support the intake of dietary collagen for the health and performance of tissues (particularly bone), the research is within its infancy. It is also important to note that there are many other nutritional factors that play a role in supporting the function of, and in aiding in repair and regeneration of such tissues.
For more information on eating for the prevention and/or treatment of injury, or to assist in performance outcomes by optimally support the function of musculoskeletal and connective tissues, see our resident Sports Dietitian. Rebekah is currently engaging in a PhD on the nutritional support for the health and performance of connective tissues in athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport.